LATINO VOICES
12/24/2012 09:52 am ET Updated Jul 28, 2014

Hispanic Christmas Traditions: Celebrating Las Posadas With Villancicos (MUSIC) (PHOTOS)

  • 1 Mexico City, Mexico
    People are seen near a Christmas tree and buildings around the Zócalo as part of Christmas celebrations in Mexico City
    Henry Romero / Reuters
    People are seen near a Christmas tree and buildings around the Zócalo as part of Christmas celebrations in Mexico City, Mexico, on December 22, 2016.
  • 2 São Paulo, Brazil
    An illuminated bus drives along the streets of the old center of São Paulo on December 21, 2016.
    NurPhoto via Getty Images
    An illuminated bus drives along the streets of the old center of São Paulo on December 21, 2016.
  • 3 Medellín, Colombia
    A woman looks at a Christmas light display in Medellín, Colombia, on December 16, 2016.
    RAUL ARBOLEDA / AFP / Getty Images
    A woman looks at a Christmas light display in Medellín, Colombia, on December 16, 2016.
  • 4 Machala, Ecuador
    People pose in front of an illuminated Christmas tree in a park in Machala, Ecuador, on December 14, 2016.
    Guillermo Granja / Reuters
    People pose in front of an illuminated Christmas tree in a park in Machala, Ecuador, on December 14, 2016.
  • 5 Guadalajara, Mexico
    People enjoy a Christmas light display in Guadalajara, Mexico, on December 12, 2016.
    Photo by Leonardo Alvarez / LatinContent / Getty Images
    People enjoy a Christmas light display in Guadalajara, Mexico, on December 12, 2016.
  • 6 Remedios, Cuba
    Cubans celebrate Las Parrandas de Remedios on December 24, 2015.
    David Silverman via Getty Images
    Cubans celebrate Las Parrandas de Remedios on December 24, 2015.
  • 7 Bogotá, Colombia
    People walk along a park that has been illuminated for Christmas in Bogotá on December 17, 2015.
    DIANA SANCHEZ / AFP / Getty Images
    People walk along a park that has been illuminated for Christmas in Bogotá on December 17, 2015.
  • 8 Managua, Nicaragua
    A colorful Christmas tree stands in Managua, Nicaragua, December 14, 2015.
    Oswaldo Rivas / Reuters
    A colorful Christmas tree stands in Managua, Nicaragua, December 14, 2015.
  • 9 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Fireworks explode around Rio's Christmas tree during its lighting ceremony at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Br
    Sergio Moraes / Reuters
    Fireworks explode around Rio's Christmas tree during its lighting ceremony at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 12, 2015.
  • 10 Lima, Peru
    Christmas decorations are seen in front of the Cathedral of Lima on December 7, 2015.
    Mariana Bazo / Reuters
    Christmas decorations are seen in front of the Cathedral of Lima on December 7, 2015.
  • 11 Guatemala City, Guatemala
    Fireworks light up the sky at the unveiling ceremony for a Christmas tree in Guatemala City on November 14, 2015.
    JOHAN ORDONEZ via Getty Images
    Fireworks light up the sky at the unveiling ceremony for a Christmas tree in Guatemala City on November 14, 2015.
  • 12 San Salvador, El Salvador
    Passers-by walk next to a Christmas tree in front of the National Palace at the historic center of San Salvador on December 1
    Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty
    Passers-by walk next to a Christmas tree in front of the National Palace at the historic center of San Salvador on December 18, 2014.
  • 13 Asunción, Paraguay
    An eco-friendly Christmas tree is set up in front of the presidential palace in Asunción on December 22, 2013.
    NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP/Getty Images
    An eco-friendly Christmas tree is set up in front of the presidential palace in Asunción on December 22, 2013.
  • 14 La Paz, Bolvia
    People enjoy the eco-friendly Christmas tree set-up at the Basilica of San Francisco in La Paz on December 18, 2013.
    Jorge Bernal/AFP/Getty Images
    People enjoy the eco-friendly Christmas tree set-up at the Basilica of San Francisco in La Paz on December 18, 2013.
  • 15 San José, Costa Rica
    People watch fireworks explode around the Children's Museum in San José on December 5, 2012.
    Juan Carlos Ulate / Reuters
    People watch fireworks explode around the Children's Museum in San José on December 5, 2012.
  • 16 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
    Christmas decorations are seen in Santo Domingo on December 20, 2011.
    Photo credit should read ERIKA SANTELICES / AFP / Getty Images
    Christmas decorations are seen in Santo Domingo on December 20, 2011.

It’s a tale as old as time--a biblical narrative that resonates with millions of Catholics across the World and that inspired the Hispanic Christmas tradition Las Posadas, which annually sees entire communities come together to celebrate with song and prayer the birth of Jesus Christ.

From Nazareth, Joseph trudged onward to Bethlehem alongside Mary, his virgin wife expecting “the savior of all people,” baby Jesus. Mounted atop a wearied donkey, Mary journeyed to the “city of David” where the divine child was to be born--once there the couple went from shelter to shelter (posadas) looking for a place to rest and give birth.

From this nativity story a tradition was born, in countries like Mexico and Guatemala, the nine nights--representing the nine months of gestation--before Christmas are known as Las Posadas, which are celebrated with prayer, christmas carols (Villancicos), and musical re-enactments of Mary and Joseph’s search for a posada. In Colombia, these nine days, beginning Dec. 16 and ending on Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), are called La Novena.

“Las Posadas is really a festival of acceptance: Who will receive the child? Who will find room in their heart for Jesus, the son of God?” Reverend Pat Size, pastor of Hispanic ministries at Madison’s Grace Episcopal Church, told the Wisconsin State Journal.

To celebrate this 400 year-old hispanic tradition listen to some Villancicos above--including the “Pedir Posada” (Ask for Shelter) song used to musically re-enact the couple’s repeated pleas for shelter and the innkeepers’ dismissals--and take a look at how Navidad (Christmas) is celebrated across Latin America.

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